When a man learns that his wife or partner is expecting, his life changes completely. Recently a student of mine, a 30-year old woman, announced, in shock, in class, that she was pregnant. What she said, and how she said it, almost in agony, brought me back to my early manhood and prompted me to dig into my neurons to remember a similar episode, but the male version of it, that occurred years ago.
Read Related: The St. Patrick’s Day I Knew I Was Pregnant
My young wife had gone to the doctor with her mother for some sort of a trivial checkup. At that time I was a Teaching Assistant at the University of Pittsburgh, pursuing my MA in the Department of Foreign Languages at the Cathedral of Learning. I believe, and memory serves me right, I was studying for an exam, when both women burst in with the good news: my wife was pregnant. Both my wife and my mother-in-law were beaming with happiness.
I was not prepared for that piece of news. I was, of course, happy, like most males are at the prospect of having a baby, and even more at the realization that I had fathered, sired, begotten a child. I leaked pride all over my brow… or was it sweat? After the few second of glee I was stunned, numbed… and my mind started racing at the prospect of having a baby. The world, my world began to look different, to appear different. What was so different?
Suddenly the responsibility of having a baby loomed over my head, like a stormy cloud. I was still trying to get my degree. After all, I was just a Graduate Assistant who did some moonlighting teaching at Duquesne and at the local Berlitz school…. My mind was like a runaway horse: I had to get my MA, and my Ph.D. was a must if I wanted to be somebody in the academic world.
During that split minute I realized that my life, my goals, my world had changed and that I had to start moving and get ready to care for that new being in the making who would be needing my material care, my time, my affection, and I did not have a minute to lose. No shenanigans anymore and no sleeping on my laurels. The slab of responsibility fell upon my shoulders with a bang. I got moving and with the help of family, both sides, I was able to land a job as Assistant Professor at the University of Scranton, with my brand-new Ph.D. degree under my arm, less than 2 years later.
Now, with home tests that detect pregnancy very early on, few husbands get the shock I did when I learned my wife was expecting. But for men, I believe, the sensation is still very much the same. We share our partner’s joy, but the weight of responsibility, as welcomed as it may be, is something that changes us forever.